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“It was a murder”: Family of 22-year-old killed by Colorado deputy calls for charges

Christian Glass’s parents struggled to believe their 22-year-old son would attack police officers.

Christian Glass. (Family photo provided by ...
Christian Glass. (Family photo provided by Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm)

But that’s what the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office told them, and so Simon and Sally Glass assumed it was true, even though the thought cast a pall over their grief and Christian’s funeral, they said.

Only when their attorneys received body camera footage of the June 11 police shooting did the couple realize how much the sheriff’s office had left out, the parents said at a news conference Tuesday.

The agency never told them that the seven officers on scene escalated the situation before Christian grabbed a knife or that he was experiencing a mental health crisis. They didn’t tell the Glasses that Christian stayed in the driver’s seat of his car during the entire 70-minute encounter. They also didn’t relay that Christian offered to throw the knives out the window, but the deputies told him not to.

“He trusted the police to come and help him,” Simon Glass said. “Instead, they attacked and killed him.”

The Glass family spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday after the release of the body camera footage by their attorneys, Qusair Mohamedbhai and Siddhartha Rathod.

“Christian’s killing is a stain on Clear Creek County and Colorado,” Simon Glass said. “It was a murder by a Colorado official. It cannot stand. It is not right.”

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum said in a statement Tuesday that her office continues to investigate the shooting. She will decide whether the officers involved should face criminal charges, or she can convene a grand jury to make that decision.

“While we understand that public sentiment may desire this process to move at a more rapid pace, it is not in the interests of justice and fairness to the family of the victim for this matter to be rushed to a conclusion,” she said.

Her office has been in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Colorado, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI Denver Division regarding this case.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI Denver Division are aware of the shooting in Silver Plume,” Deborah Takahara, spokeswoman for the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in an email Tuesday. “If the information reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take the appropriate action.”

Glass died of six gunshot wounds to his torso and arms, an autopsy report released Tuesday by his family’s attorneys show. He also had self-inflicted wounds from stabbing himself after he was shot, but forensic pathologist Meredith Frank found those wounds to be superficial.

Glass’s toxicology report showed amounts of cannabis and amphetamine in his system. The amount of cannabis suggests that he used cannabis shortly before his death, said Dr. Andrew Monte, an emergency room physician and medical toxicologist who teaches at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The amphetamine is consistent with prescription medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he said. Glass’s mother said her son took prescription medications for ADHD.

Christian would likely still be alive had the police called in a mental health professional, his parents said. Both Jefferson and Boulder counties have mental health crisis teams and could have been called to the incident, Rathod said.

“Even a kindergarten teacher could’ve gotten him out of the car,” Sally Glass said. “It’s the fact that seven police officers were pointing guns at him. I don’t think I would’ve gotten him out of the car.”

Glass’s parents described their son as a quiet, sensitive man who was deeply creative and considerate to others’ needs and feelings. He trained as a chef but became increasingly interested in art as he got older. He lived with a roommate in Boulder County and planned to take a computer coding class so he could work fewer hours and spend more time on his art.

His mother remembered his hugs, how he would pull her tight into his chest.

“There is a hole in my heart and it will be there until the day I die,” she said.

As she spoke, Sally Glass fingered a small silver pendant she wore around her neck. It was found in Christian’s car, she said. One side depicts Mary and Jesus. “Pray for us” is inscribed on the back.

“We have to pray for us in America to make this a less violent country,” she said. “I think a lot of people now would agree that there’s a systemic problem with policing. It’s too aggressive. They escalate at every opportunity and it looks like they’re spoiling for a fight.”

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